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Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably Horenstein's greatest Mahler recording, 23 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Mahler: Symphony No.3 (Audio CD)
Unfortunately Jascha Horenstein did not make all that many Mahler reocrdings. We only have Symphony 1Mahler: Symphony No.1 In D and this 3rd from Unicorn in stereo (Horenstein conducts Mahler Symphony No. 1 & Bruckner Symphony No. 9 on Vox from the 1950's and Mahler: Symphony No. 1; Songs of a Wayfarer with the Bamberg SO are of variable quality), a Fourth Symphony Mahler: Symphony No. 4 in G on CFP , a Seventh on BBC Classics that unforunately starts wih a split note on the tenor horn Mahler: Symphony No. 7, an elderly (but very good mono) Vox recording of Symphony 9 Mahler: Symphony No.9/Kindertotenlieder [IMPORT] and an embattled Proms performance of the same symphony, again on BBC Classics Mahler: Symphony No. 9 / Kindertotenlieder easily available. The Unicorn recording of Symphony 6 no longer seems available. [If anyone knows of other recordings please add a comment and I will edit the review.]

This Mahler 3 is so fine that it has claims to be the single recording of choice in any CD collection - at least as for as the interpretation is concerned. I believe it could stand as Horenstein's "Mahler Monument".

That said there are problems with the balance in the first movement that I can only put down to some sort of error on the part of the recording engineers: at one point s single clarinet sounds approximately twice as loud as the entire second violin section, and the movement as a whole tends towards a recessive stirng balance. But the gradual burgeoning of power in this movement and its mad release in the coda shows very fine conducting and makes the balance problems seem less than they might otherwise be. But it needs to be said that if you have a very large concern for magnificent recording quality, you might become irritated by the shifting balances in this movement. Alas, you CAN get wonderful sound in this symphony by buying Chailly/Concertghebouw on Decca Mahler: Symphony No.3 but you will miss out on the extremes of light and darkness and the sheer depth of involvement that Horenstein brings to this score - especially in the last movement.

The other movements go well too and the Wandsworth Boys' Choir in particular make a charming raw and unsophisticated sound (especially the altos) that perfectly fits the folk quality of the poem in the fifth movement (listen to "Liebe nur Gott in alle Zeit" when the altos repeat "Liebe nur Gott!"). The final adagio is wonderfully phrased, building to a superb conclusion.

A very fine recording that you will not regret buying.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Mar 2010 01:31:56 GMT
There's a Mahler 8 by Horenstein on BBC Music. A bit hit-and-miss. I do share your enthusiasm for the Horenstein 3 though.

Posted on 26 Sep 2010 00:46:19 BDT
There's also a BBC Das Lied, Colin - unless you were referring to symphonies only. Even Jaschaphobe David Hurwitz refrained from giving it a customary hatchet job in Classics Today - well, just about...

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Sep 2010 08:23:35 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Sep 2010 08:28:07 BDT
Yes. thanks for reminding me about the Song of the Earth with Horenstein and the BBC Northern Symphony (BBC Philharmonic) and for adding the information to the review. In the last year or two BBC Radio 3's Building a Library chose that particular recording as its recommended first choice and it is, indeed, very fine. As for Hurwitz and the sort of thing that readers get from him about Horenstein, I think that showing such large indignation about recorded music and performers is egregious clap-trap and shows a disquieting tendency of clouded judgement almost akin to someone suffering from low-level Asperges Syndrome. Reviewers who get their knives into performers should have a bit of humility. After all, THEY are not standing in front of an orchestra and trying to deliver the goods. And if they have the capacity to do this, then why are they not doing it? Some of the critical and strongly-expressed remarks of the likes of Pierre Boulez (to take one example) at least have the moral weight of having been delivered by artists who know the difficulties and have the talent to make a fair stab at producing a performance.

I notice, however, that the Song of the Earth that we are discussing is now only availabe from Amazon Marketplace and I wonder if this disc has been deleted Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde / Horenstein.

Posted on 8 Nov 2010 12:35:04 GMT
There is/was another Maher 6 with the Bournemouth Symphony from the BBC (1969). Also 2 recordings of the Kindertotenlieder, one from 1928 with Heinrich Rehkemper (a Grammophon recording remastered by Naxos) and another (much to be preferred, not just for sound quality) with Janet Baker from Edinburgh in 1967 (also from the BBC).

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2013 21:56:26 GMT
I agree regarding Hurwitz. I remember one post of his where he was rubbishing historical recordings where he said that the fans of such recordings were safe in their own little enclave but eventually had to come out into the "real" world where "the rest of us" live. It's a revolting bullying device to pretend that your opinion is part of some majority opinion and that those that differ must be sad marginal figures.

Also once after savaging some Horenstein recording Hurwitz said something like "the Horenstein fans will whine like little hurt puppies. Let them!" This "critic" is clearly lost in a strange defensive paranoid fantasy world of his own.

Posted on 29 Sep 2015 16:00:52 BDT
There is now a recording available from Pristine Classical of Mahler 5 with the Berlin Phil, recorded live at the 1961 Edinburgh Festival. You can only get it from them, but it is available either as a CD or as a download.
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